Posted in Reading Adventures, Writing Adventures

The Great Pretender (Fighting the Impostor Syndrome)

I originally posted this March 28 2019, a lot has happened since then but many of the sentiments remain the same.

Because it feels like the universe is not so subtly nudging me in to addressing my own issue of being an impostor, I have feel the need to write about this. As a side note: I don’t believe in the concept of fate. I prefer to channel Kyle Reese/Sarah Connor ‘There is no fate, but what we make ourselves’. So I’m taking the hints and deciding to do something about it.
There things have happened within the last week or so that have made me pay more attention. So I’m trying to address it so I can move forward.

1. I read about perfection and it’s perils
I read a post called ‘The Perils of Perfectionism’ by Sam Brown and for the first time a big loud pompous gong went off inside of me. It’s a fantastic post about how striving for perfect creates fear. If highly recommend having a little looksie here.
I have carried fear around a lot in my life, and far too often the mean little bitch has taken the wheel. It will be a work in progress, I have no illusions about that, but I figure I have to start saying no, and take that wheel back.
2. Talking about my doubts.

Recently I was talking to a fellow writer from one of my writing groups about my own impostor syndrome. What I explained to her is that I find myself putting those thoughts in to the drivers seat (yep, liking this analogy) without always realising I am doing it. I quite often catch myself humming or singing The Platters song ‘The Great Pretender’ (Queen’s version) to myself because I am constantly feeling like a fraud. Strutting sometimes occurs as well, as it should when one sings Queen.

3. Reading
I’m reading this book called ‘What Would Boudicca Do?’. I’ve had to take off my own self critical hat of ‘I’m stupid, I know nothing about so many of these women from history’ to saying ‘look at all this amazing history I am learning from this book.’ For me, books are all about learning. Even if that lesson is something as beautiful as learning to turn off, stop, breath and enjoy another person’s craft. But, books that I adore can both intimidate and inspire the writer within. ‘What would Boudicca do?’, while not what I thought it would be, has really made me stop and think about so many things. The chapters are small little bite size nuggets of women from history and what lessons we can learn from them. When I came across the chapter ‘the impostor syndrome.’ I swear I could feel my body trying desperately to shrink into herself, hide inside her shell and take refuge in becoming the furniture.
That evil little voice inside started piping up ‘yep, they are talking about you. You’re about to get busted!’
I had been devouring the book, when suddenly for two days I found every reason to be too busy to pick it up.
I finally gave in. It is an interesting chapter, that took a bit of a different angle with the inspired female from history then I would have expected. And even though it is encouraging in it’s not entirely unique take on the idea that those that have the syndrome are more likely to actually be good at what they are doing as opposed to those overly cocky, I still feel as though at any minute I’m going to be found out. Ah the impostor syndrome even rears her head when reading about the impostor syndrome. She’s a strong little bugger.
So, it really is time to stop letting it stop me, it’s time to start fighting back. I am not a pretender, but a learner. I’m learning to overcome it and I’m learning more about my craft. It’s not a small thing to simply overcome but I am taking steps in exposing my writing and getting feedback, real feedback. Because as they say, you are your own worst critic.

Well that was an interesting read. I have come so much further than I dared to hope when I orignally wrote that.

The impostor syndrome still raises her insidious head, but I have an amazing tribe of friends and writers and I talk about the snarky little bitch and she goes and scurries into the back seat, like most bullies.

In these crazy times, be extra kind to yourself and reach out if that doubting voice tries to yell over you.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Posted in Book Club, Life Adventures, Reading Adventures, Writing Adventures

Well that was a week

I’m not sure anyone really expected life to suddenly become perfect but I’m almost certain no one thought 2020 was a shocking calm before the storm. And perhaps it is neither extreme but this first week of 2021 has certainly thrown a spanned in the works.

I don’t want to go into the world at large thing, because we all know the dumpster fire has followed us into the New Year. Locally, we are in a sudden 3 day lockdown, which sounds minimal but I’m not delusional enough to think that after three days life will be great again. Nor will I be shocked if the lockdown is extended, again and again.

On a personal note, things have been a bit rough as well.

Three of the most influential and important women in my life are in dire situations with their health (mum if you are reading this, you are NOT allowed to get sick) one has even been given the devastating prognosis of approximately 6 weeks.

Last night when I learned this I sobbed into my partners shoulder and felt a crushing pain in my chest. I cried myself to sleep and have woken sadden but aware that if I were to let this stop me grabbing everyday and doing what I can with it, she would not only kick my arse but damn what a disrespect that would be. The sadness remains but along with that, I have the memories and light of her being in my life.

So what has 2021 offered so far to help light the rough days ahead. I have finally got this blog up and running properly and have my website good to go. I am working on finally getting my newsletter happening, and I’m so excited about it. I have a short story I am itching to give away to all subscribers and have the most beautiful cover made by the incredibly talented Pamela Jeffs. Her writing is mind blowing and her cover designs (a hobby she says) are truly stunning.

Reading:
I’ve embarked on a very optimistic goodreads reading challenge for 2021 of 100 books. Last year I managed 61 in the end and thought that incredible, but what’s a challenge if you aren’t pushing yourself beyond what you already know you can do.
In these 100 books I’m also working on the Sapphic Reading Challenge 2021 created by the incredibly awesome and talented Jae.

https://jae-fiction.com/sapphic-reading-challenge-2021/

I’m aiming for the dragon level 1 badge (1 book from each 50 categories) AND the bonus unicorn badge (10 of the 12 category). If you want to up your reading challenge and embark on some sapphic reading, and perhaps find new authors and categories then go take a look. There are many levels of badges, for all levels of readers.

I finished my first book The Queen’s Blade by Natasha Rose and am almost half way through Hotel Queens by Lee Winter. Both books are featured on the Les Fiction Book Club Facebook group this month. There will be author interviews, Q&A’s, and discussion at the end of the month. I’m also hoping to get some quick video reviews done as well.

Writing:
I finished my first full draft rewrite of Gargoyles, a dystopian novella I’m hoping to submit to a publisher by the end of February.
I’ve almost finished my last read through of The Void for the Publishers deadline of the end of the month.
I have also, with the help of my lovely partner, set up a writing space in our office. It’s so pretty and exciting.

New writing space .. Not yet finished but well on its way

So I hope you are all staying safe, and I’d love to hear if you’re doing any reading challenges this year, or any other challenges you are embarking on in 2021.

Be safe
Be brave
Be kind

Posted in Reading Adventures

December Book Reviews

I only managed 4 books this month, but I think that’s a pretty fair effort considering the craziness this month has been, even with the CoVid19 limitations. I’m embarking on doing more in-depth reviews … which has turned out to have a few spoilers … but I think I’ve marked the spoilers before I dive in and leave you unprepared.

Mirrorverse by Pamela Jeffs – Pamela Jeffs is a master of words and emotions. She has an incredible skill at pulling you directly into another world with just a few beautifully structured and emotive sentences. Mirrorverse is a brilliant example of the extreme talent and skill Jeffs has to offer with her writing.

Christmas in Mistletoe by Clare Lydon – What can I say, I’m a complete sucker for Clare Lydon’s wit, humour, and fabulous writing. There were some true laugh out loud moments, and a few lines that made me go pwhhaaaa at the emotional punch. It’s definitely a brilliant read to help you get into the shiny, sparkly Christmas feel … even if (or perhaps especially if) you are sweating in Australia and wishing to run through the Christmas tree farm in your shorts and singlet. Get in the festive season mood with another great romance from Clare Lydon.

The Setup by T.B Markinson – The setup is a delicious story from T.B Markinson. T.B Markinson has created characters that are complicated and real, even the ones you never meet. It was a bit of a shock to get into the story so quickly, being used to reading Markinson’s longer reads, but once I got over that it was all good.
I just adore the main character, Rory, to bits. The story is told from Rory’s point of view, an American moved to London for a two year work contract.

Her thoughts are adorable and her energy and buzz is infectious. Banter, as always, is top notch and the sex scenes are steamy and natural. It was again a shock when the book ended, because I wanted so much more. I’d love to read more of this world and get to meet some of the off the page characters. Some favourite laugh out loud lines:
 Couple my blunder with her one-word answer, and I had the urge to stand up and say, “This, ladies and gentlemen, is how not to make a first impression. Can you point out where I went wrong? Let’s learn from this together.”
 They tried to understand, but it was like explaining space travel to Jane Austen. Or so I imagined.
My expression hopefully conveyed my second language was lunatic.

Under a Falling Star by Jae – So pretend there are big huge flashing signs screaming spoilers … because I’ve tried to minimise the spoilers but can’t do it. So here goes. 
The good: oh my, this list is long. But I’ll put down my top points. From the brilliant ice Queen to the cursing cockatoo, the characters of Under a Falling Star were deep and complicated. The smoothness of writing and the story both make the entire book so easy to read. I’m also in love with Jae’s ability to create tension without the often overly frustrating and dramatic let’s break up because we don’t have one simple (although emotionally difficult) conversation that would clear up all miscommunications. The conversations especially at the start show perfectly that twisted inside where your tongue fights every word, but it flows to a natural rhythm of the story, without any questions of why didn’t they just …
A special note to Jae’s use of humour, it wasn’t on every page but I found myself cackle a few times particularly from the cockatoo:
 On her way to the door, she blew Toby a kiss. “Wish me luck.” “Fuck you,” the cockatoo warbled.
And the ice Queen herself as she began to thaw:
 The thought made her roll her eyes at herself. Oh, come on. What’s up with all this sappiness?
The bad: So this is only my personal preference, but damn I wanted to see Austen’s character flaw. She was a little perfect for me, and yet I still somehow adored her, I just feel like showing a weakness would have been nice. 
The magnificent: my favourite part of this book, without a doubt is the realistic changes and fundamental lack of changes in characters. Dee, the Ice Queen is still damn terrifying to those who have to deal with her wrath, even if she has learned to say please. Her hideous family still remain stuck in their ways and rejections, and don’t simply change overnight because their daughter stood up to their shitty abuse. 
Bonus question (if you can explain this adequately you get a cookie): How else do you pronounce Austen if not like the famous author? 

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Posted in Reading Adventures

November Book Reviews

It took me so long to do some of these reviews. I’m impressed with how many books I still managed to get through with NaNoWriMo being ever so present. But I am understanding more and more the trend toward short reads. There are a few in this list, and all very worth the reads.

Requiem for Immortals by Lee Winter – This was one of the most incredible books I’ve read all year. An assassin in a love story. A little mouse with power. evocative writing. Characters you love and Love to hate. And overall a fantastic story line that grips you by the throat until it’s hard to breath. Lee Winter’s writing is fantastic and Requiem is one of the most incredible characters I’ve ever met. I cannot wait to read more of Lee Winter’s books.

The Romance Bet by Jae – One of those short reads I mentioned – It was a cute short story. I enjoyed the premise and the writing was good. The story was focused around National Novel Writing Month, which made me giggle. I do prefer reading Jae’s longer reads.

A future, Forged by Aiki Flinthart – I was nervous going into reading this because I’m so in love with the Kalima Chronicles series but I should have known better. Once again Aiki Flinthart uses words to evoke emotion and engage the senses with lines that make me smile and shiver, like She shook herself free of the swamp of dark memories. A future, Forged had me intrigued with characters and a story that hooked me right from the very beginning. It is a story that shows the world of Kalima as it was set 200 years before Iron, the first book in the Kalima Chronicles. It’s such a wonderful addition to this series, I’m so glad to read more that is set in this incredible world of Flinthart’s imagination.

Burning Reflection by Tim Mendees – Another short read and my first of Tim Mendees books. From the start to the end you are pulled into the world of the old ones. Tim Mendees creates the perfect atmosphere with every word building to the tension in a natural rhythm that won’t let you stop thinking about it, even if you have the strength to close the book. A brilliant read, highly recommended for the gothic horror enthusiast.

Dead Man Walking by David Green – Yes, another short read, I told you I was enjoying them. Dead Man Walking: A Nick Holleran book is a wicked little love child between Sin City and Constantine. The atmosphere reminiscent of the 1950’s PI’s of the past hits from the very start. The world building and side characters that David Green has created makes me already cross my fingers, hoping there is more of the same to come. Humour is mixed with horror and it is tantalisingly weaved throughout the story. When I finished Dead man Walking I felt as though I had been given a small window, or perhaps a fireplace view, of a moment in this world, a moment in Holleran’s life. And oh boy, what a moment it is.

Shattered by Lee Winter – I couldn’t resist reading another Lee Winter book. She’s fast becoming a favourite. This book is so aptly named. It broke me. In mostly all the right ways, even the sad stuff was so brilliantly written and amazing. I love Winter’s way of creating such wonderfully flawed and yet cocky characters. Her use of language is evocative and immersive. The world building is delicious and the emotional and ethical quandaries are balanced beautifully with the action and story. I both loved and hated the ending, mostly because damn it I did not see it coming and it was a brilliant surprise. One of my favourite things about this book is that the emotional and ‘romantic’ elements are fundamental to the stories progress but there is so much more going on. In a world of superheroes, I felt like I found the most realistic and well developed characters. I cannot recommend this book enough. Especially if you love being broken, put back together, shattered, and then made whole in a completely better way for having read it. 

Chrysalis by Kimberley Rei – Yes, I ended the month on another short read. A good read. I enjoyed the premise and the development. Some beautiful language and the setting was clear. I would have liked a little more clarification about a few things, but still a good read

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Posted in Reading Adventures, Writing Adventures

Planning, who knew? Most successful NaNoWriMo

I assumed that my reading for November would be minimal because of the craziness of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), but it turns out I managed to read quite a few books and there are several reasons for this.

Reading: I have found the enjoyable brilliance of short reads. Longer than a short story so you can get a bit more guts and immersion, but not a novel that will take a lot longer, especially when you are strapped for time and might have to wait a few days or weeks between picking them up again, and possibly needing to reread parts, or skim to get back into them.
November Reviews will be up soon, once I recover from a rather brutal book hangover.

Planning: Oh my … I’ve of course been told about planning your writing for years, and my usual reaction is a smile, a nod, and an immediate argument in my head that planning was just NOT for me. Turns out, I thrive whole heartedly on being able to know where the story is going before I start getting those words on to the page. In my younger writing soul, I thought it would some how squish the creativity. I now know I was completely wrong. It’s still my story, my imagination as I think through it all and work out how much crap I can put my characters through, which on a side note the answer is always ‘a bit more’ ;-p. And planning doesn’t mean your characters automatically do what you want them to, oh no. BUT overall the main points remain the same. NaNoWriMo has just finished and I’ve never done so well. My final word tally was 88001 words for the 30 days. :-D. It was amazing. I even think a large chunk of the words will be usable for my writing projects.

Day 16, when I hit the 50K word goal and the heartbeat of the entire month of November.

Let me know, are you are planner, a panster, or a plantser … are a bit of all depending on what you are writing? I’d love to know.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Posted in Book Club, Reading Adventures, Writing Adventures

October Book Reviews

October has been a mammoth month of reading. These reviews are my own personal interpretations and opinions. I’m always up for book discussions, so let me know what you think.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir – I wasn’t sure what to expect, all I had heard about it was lesbian necromancers in space. Sounded promising. And on almost all levels it certainly delivered. Overall I really enjoyed the story, but I found I kept expecting some kind of outward expression of Gideon being a lesbian (perhaps an indication of the dominant lesbian fiction out there?) and at times the near literary writing found some sections harder to get through. However, It was refreshing and freaking amazing reading a lesbian fiction story that isn’t Romance as it’s predominate theme. More speculative fiction lesbian books is needed in my opinion. Gideon the Ninth is a fantastical epic adventure of beautiful words and a detailed and wonderfully created universe. It is a brilliant read, but worth knowing exactly what you are embarking on. I am looking forward to reading book two, Harrow the Ninth with a little more understanding of what I’m about to read. I’m so happy to see other genres embrace lesbian main characters.

Finding Jessica Lambert by Clare Ashton – Finding Jessica Lambert is a contemporary romance. Everything about this book was deliciously beautiful. The words were divine, and the characters so real in a world that many may not have any experience with. The family dynamics and contrary actions of people were so human. It tapped in to anxieties so honestly they resonated and wrapped around me. It was a brilliant commentary on societies expectation that people should always have their shit together and the shame that’s created when keeping the struggles hidden. I also love the idea of second chances that is sewed through out the story. I loved this book and will be looking up more by this author.

Reservations of the Heart by T. B. Markinson – Reservations of the Heart was delightful from the first page to the last. I adored the characters and their fantastically witty and Laugh out loud banter. The dynamics between family relationships were varied and relatable while the writing was brilliant. T.B Markinson has spoken many times about her dislike of sex scenes but the many in this book were heat worthy phenomenal. It was also nice to read a book where both main characters are already aware of their sexuality.

Try me Again by Clare Lydon – A beautifully written snapshot of love, wrong choices, and second chances. Try me Again is easy to read with the flow and intrigue, while Clare Lyndon uses her humour, stunning scene setting, and insights of human nature to make you fall in love along with the characters.

Brooms Away by D. A. Kelly – A cosy mystery meets quirky fantasy. It is a fun adventure that will make you giggle. The mystery is intriguing, and the main character, Arabella is a riot of humour and rushing in to a world she doesn’t know much about. The writing is beautiful and the description and scenery is immersive. D.A. Kelly has done a fantastic job of putting her imaginative world on to the page and into our hearts. I can’t wait to read more from this author.

Out of Nowhere: Moments in Time Anthology volume 2 by K. B. Elijah – I had so much fun reading these stories. Elijah’s writing is captivating and inviting while her characters make you chuckle or roll your eyes (intentionally), sometimes both. My favourites were definitely the stories about Death. She has created such a fun world and a unique and fun twist to a character I want to read far more adventures about.
Out of Nowhere ended with such a fantastic story, which brought together several other characters, from both this anthology and Volume 1. But no need to worry, the story stands completely on it’s own, but a fun little inside knowledge always makes this more enjoyable ;-p

Carnage by J. A. Henderson – In true Henderson style I devoured this book in three sittings (the downside of being an adult and needing to do life stuff). From the beginning to the end, Carnage entertained and pulled me in. I love the way J.A. Henderson gives you all the information, which somehow seems completely unrelated until his reveals where you slap yourself on the forehead and think, well of course, that makes entire sense. It’s a brilliant read, with laugh out loud moments, brilliant well rounded characters, and a story you need to know the end to. Highly recommend this book and the author.

The Rise of the Great Old One by Jasmine Jarvis – A quick dark read. A homage to Lovecraft and a spine chilling tale to make you question ‘where do writers really get their ideas’ ;-). Jarvis’ first solo publication that shows the skill and twisted mind of a great writer. I loved where the story began, setting up an interesting ended that made me shiver.

My last quick review was a live video I did for The Les Fiction Book Club group on Facebook. The review was on Clare Lydon’s ‘Before you Say I Do’, October’s book for the group. I also got a chance to chat with Clare during another live video, where we talked about her book, and other fun things like the first lesbian fiction book she read, different romance tropes, and her upcoming Christmas book. If you would like to check these videos out, you can join the group here.

Hope October was a good month for you all, and that November is fantastic. If anyone is embarking on the craziness of NaNoWriMo, GOOD LUCK … if you want to have me as a NaNo buddy, my user name is evil_koalas.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind